What Matters

Global Financemagazine editor Andrea Fiano's message to readers about what to expect in this month's issue.

February 2019 | VOL. 33 NO. 2

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As we go to press, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan is collapsing. Despite the high drama, it turns out that this pending geopolitical divorce barely registers among corporate leaders: It ranks 13th out of 14 concerns in the latest global poll of CEOs by The Conference Board. Even among European CEOs, it ranks as their seventh greatest concern, only a notch above currency volatility.

The survey highlights that CEO concerns vary by geography as well as time. In China and Latin America, the top worry is a recession (last year, recession worries ranked 19th). In Europe, the top concern is global political instability. But in the US, cybersecurity and new competitors take the two top slots.

CEOs worldwide certainly share many external concerns, recession looming largest. Even US CEOs put recession risk at No. 3. “Threats to global trade systems” was the fourth concern, not only among CEOs, but for other C-suite executives, too.

There’s more unanimity on internal worries: “Attraction and retention of top talent” was named the top concern by CEOs in every region as well as by other C-suite leaders. Artificial intelligence and robotic automation, the topic of our cover story in this issue, will surely be part of corporate talent solutions. It will also be part of how companies address the second-greatest internal concern worldwide: “creating new business models because of disruptive technologies.” Analyzing and forecasting the effects of current digital trends—the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution—on productivity, workers and society should be a concern for legislators, business leaders and educators.

Meanwhile, Brexit is changing too fast to address in a print magazine that ships to readers around the world. It is impossible to determine the outcome of negotiations, even though the number of possible scenarios is decreasing as the separation deadline of March 29 barrels toward us. We won’t attempt to forecast; we prefer to lay out some of the ways that corporate executives dealing with Europe and the UK are preparing for all possible scenarios. Find our ongoing Brexit coverage at www.gfmag.com/Brexit/.

Andrea Fiano | Editor